Advocates demand action as NYC falls behind in building safer streets for cyclists
As 2023 fades into the rearview mirror, advocates for cyclist safety are sounding an alarm, labeling it one of the deadliest years for those on two wheels. They say the city is far behind its goals for implementing protected bike lanes throughout the boroughs.
"We need the administration to get the streets plan back on track," said Elizabeth Adams, deputy executive director of Transportation Alternatives.
Adams says the administration has some serious work to do to catch up to targets mandated by law.
“In 2023 the city was required to build 50 miles of protected bike lanes, but only got to 35, and with the stakes this high, we cannot allow for stalled projects, broken promises and delays for practices that keep New Yorkers safe,” said Adams.
The City Council passed a bill in 2019, setting benchmarks, including the completion of 250 miles of protected bike lanes by 2026. These lanes, unlike conventional ones, incorporate barriers such as curbs or rows of parked cars, aiming to provide enhanced safety for cyclists. Adams says, unfortunately, last year marked one of the deadliest years for bike riders in New York's history.
“Twenty-nine New Yorkers were killed while riding bikes. It’s higher than we’ve seen in recent years and we know we have the tools to prevent it,” said Adams.
Caroline Davis, a city resident and cyclist for two years, attested to the challenges faced on the roads. She agreed with advocates, stating, "Having the wide width is really helpful so you can pass people, and also having the cars act as a physical barrier from the moving traffic helps me feel much safer."
News 12 reached out to the administration for comment, receiving a link to a press release emphasizing achievements in public spaces and bike infrastructure expansion. However, the release did not provide a direct response to the number of bike lanes planned for 2024. A source close to the Department of Transportation revealed that in 2023, a record number of protected bike lanes - over 33 miles - were implemented.
Advocates and riders, however, argue that more needs to be done to enhance cyclist safety in the city.
"I think they can be doing a lot better. It would be safer for them to take some action so that other people would feel free to ride their bike," commented Davis.
“We know what keeps New Yorkers safe, we know what works and that's building infrastructure that allows every person to get around safely in their own space so that you don’t have bicyclists competing with cars, competing with pedestrians that each person has their own space to safely move around,” said Adams.